New England Snow Holes

Resort and backcountry skiing and snowboarding in eastern US and Canada, including our famous reader-submitted No-Bull Snow Reports.

Re: New England Snow Holes

Postby Tony Crocker » Thu Jan 14, 2010 12:07 pm

There is no way the Vermont tree skiing within full lift service lasts until the end of April from the reports I've read over the past decade. Check MRG closing dates as evidence. JSpin's December comments do fit what I read here. People who get on it right after a storm are well rewarded, but the base usually settles back to something less than ideal before January.

In terms of trail counts, my snow conditions chart indicates that the mid-season plateau is not reached on average until mid-January. Whether expert trails open = woods skiable I'll leave to you eastern locals to debate, but I suspect there's close correlation. Also, it's safe to say that when mid-season rain/thaw/freeze events close the expert trails, you don't want to be in the woods either.

I would venture that there is a 4 month window (mid-December to mid-April) when the woods might be skiable, and with variable surface conditions 2 1/2 to 3 months of that time they actually are skiable.

I’m not as big fan of skiing the trees when it’s corn, mush, or hard spring-cycle snow.

I have to disagree here, perhaps prejudiced by my Baldy/Waterman experience. But I also note that some of the best eastern terrain (Sugarloaf Snowfields, Whiteface Slides) is more frequently open in good spring conditions than anytime in winter. I consider myself lucky to have had those conditions when I skied Paradise at MRG in 2003.
http://bestsnow.net
Ski Records
Season length: 21 months, Nov. 29, 2010 - July 2, 2012
Days in one year: 80 from Nov. 29, 2010 - Nov. 17, 2011
Season vertical: 1,610K in 2016-17
Season powder: 291K in 2011-12
User avatar
Tony Crocker
 
Posts: 9803
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2004 10:37 am
Location: Avatar: Charlotte Bay, Antarctica 2011
Location: Glendale, California

Re: New England Snow Holes

Postby christopherb » Thu Jan 14, 2010 2:44 pm

Current New England estimated snow cover:
nsm_depth_2010011405_Northeast.jpg
christopherb
 
Posts: 14
Joined: Fri Dec 04, 2009 12:31 pm

Re: New England Snow Holes

Postby Patrick » Thu Jan 14, 2010 3:09 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:There is no way the Vermont tree skiing within full lift service lasts until the end of April from the reports I've read over the past decade.
(...)
I would venture that there is a 4 month window (mid-December to mid-April) when the woods might be skiable, and with variable surface conditions 2 1/2 to 3 months of that time they actually are skiable.


I guess 2008 was in the previous decade? :-"

Jay VT - May 4, 08
viewtopic.php?f=2&t=6808

There is some liftserved tree skiing until the end of April in Vermont, some years. To note, MRG closes when it cannot offer top-to-bottom skiing. The top is generally still in good/great shape when the single stops spinning.

Tony Crocker wrote:But I also note that some of the best eastern terrain (Sugarloaf Snowfields, Whiteface Slides) is more frequently open in good spring conditions than anytime in winter.


Sugarloaf Snowfields and Slides will shutdown what before the rest of the mountain. Snowfields will meltout pretty fast compared to the rest of the mountain. Slides issues would be related to the melting water running under the snow.

Tony Crocker wrote:I consider myself lucky to have had those conditions when I skied Paradise at MRG in 2003.


I don't think that very uncommon, odds are infinitely way better than the previous two places you've mentioned above.
Ski Mad World
A blog of MadPat's World: A History of Skiing Geography
http://madpatski.wordpress.com
User avatar
Patrick
 
Posts: 4729
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2004 6:19 am
Location: The Great Trip 2006
Location: Ottawa, Ontario

Re: New England Snow Holes

Postby Patrick » Thu Jan 14, 2010 3:11 pm

christopherb wrote:Current New England estimated snow cover:
nsm_depth_2010011405_Northeast.jpg


Funny how this chart overlap in certain places into Canada. I would be curious to see a greater proportion of Southern Quebec and the Gaspe Peninsula. :-k
Ski Mad World
A blog of MadPat's World: A History of Skiing Geography
http://madpatski.wordpress.com
User avatar
Patrick
 
Posts: 4729
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2004 6:19 am
Location: The Great Trip 2006
Location: Ottawa, Ontario

Re: New England Snow Holes

Postby Cannonball » Thu Jan 14, 2010 3:28 pm

There is no way the Vermont tree skiing within full lift service lasts until the end of April


I couldn't find anyone here saying "until the end of April". But I will confirm what the other (VT skiers) are saying...there is usually April tree skiing to be had. Fortunately for us we are actually skiing in the real woods on real snow and not on your conditions chart. To paraphrase someone's wise quote "statistics are a poor substitute for reality"
User avatar
Cannonball
 
Posts: 57
Joined: Tue Oct 05, 2004 9:57 am
Location: Avatar: Chugach, AK

Re: New England Snow Holes

Postby riverc0il » Thu Jan 14, 2010 5:41 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:There is no way the Vermont tree skiing within full lift service lasts until the end of April from the reports I've read over the past decade.

Tree skiing can be pretty epic during the first two weeks of April which suggests it can go late some years.

http://www.thesnowway.com/2007/04/13/180

http://www.thesnowway.com/2007/04/15/22 ... n-at-stowe

http://www.thesnowway.com/2007/04/08/po ... nal-single

http://www.thesnowway.com/2007/04/07/bo ... river-glen

http://www.thesnowway.com/2007/04/06/am ... t-jay-peak

http://www.thesnowway.com/2006/04/06/am ... dleback-me

Big storms happened three years in a row in Aprils this past decade. I would bet serious money that lift serviced trees are skiable in late April at least every now and again.

Tony, with all due respect (and I truly do have a lot of respect for your experience, data tracking, and knowledge), I once again must submit that no matter how detailed of a statistician one is, if you are not skiing here every week, you can never truly appreciate and understand the conditions.

And for the record, I did misread the quote slightly and have edited my post accordingly. Last week of April tree skiing is definitely not a "never ever".
--Steve

TheSnowWay.com
"Skiing is not a sport, it is a way of life." - Otto Schniebs
User avatar
riverc0il
 
Posts: 1732
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2004 12:22 am
Location: Ashland, NH

Re: New England Snow Holes

Postby riverc0il » Thu Jan 14, 2010 5:52 pm

Tony Crocker wrote:I would venture that there is a 4 month window (mid-December to mid-April) when the woods might be skiable, and with variable surface conditions 2 1/2 to 3 months of that time they actually are skiable.

I have skied trees as early as late October (http://www.thesnowway.com/2006/10/29/sk ... in-october) and as late as mid-April (see previous post). So to say that trees "might" be skiable for a 4 month window is completely inaccurate. It just takes two feet to open up some trees and as my Jay report from 10/29 suggests, three feet to open up good trees in October is entirely possible. The fact is trees "might" be skiable before the lifts even open and long after they have closed. "Actual" skiable woods is completely dependent upon location and its given weather that year. NH is actually skiable much less than NoVT. But I would peg NoVT as "actually" skiable much longer than 3 months of a year.
--Steve

TheSnowWay.com
"Skiing is not a sport, it is a way of life." - Otto Schniebs
User avatar
riverc0il
 
Posts: 1732
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2004 12:22 am
Location: Ashland, NH

Re: New England Snow Holes

Postby Harvey44 » Thu Jan 14, 2010 10:52 pm

I'm amazed at how "little" snow it seems to take to open up the trees at Gore. Gore's had maybe 45 inches. I wouldn't call the tree skiing fantastic but it has been good. And not just low angle stuff - we are skiing everything.

One thing though - of the 40 inches that fell ... with all the wind ... you may actually have 60 inches in the woods and 20 inches on the trails.

I loved Gpetrics' quote in the awesome TR that FIS did from Stowe, the week before it opened:

"10 is the new 40."

The older I get, the more I value skiing and the less I value my skis.

Tony face the facts - no matter how many stats you roll out, we are still going to have fun.

Ski the east!
NYSkiBlog.com
User avatar
Harvey44
 
Posts: 1262
Joined: Tue Dec 20, 2005 3:37 pm
Location: North River, NY
Location: North River, NY

Re: New England Snow Holes

Postby jamesdeluxe » Fri Jan 15, 2010 8:51 am

riverc0il wrote: Tony, with all due respect (and I truly do have a lot of respect for your experience, data tracking, and knowledge), I once again must submit that no matter how detailed of a statistician one is, if you are not skiing here every week, you can never truly appreciate and understand the conditions.

I bust on Tony a lot, but he's one of maybe two westerners who takes an active interest in the East, and I appreciate that. While he gets the generalizations down, the details, as mentioned by RivercOil, can only be learned by skiing here. We're talking about the snow belt in northern VT... but last weekend, with total snowfall only in the low 50s (some of which had been nailed by rain in early December), I was skiing the woods at Belleayre with very little trouble. And I'll do it again tomorrow.

And no tree wells! 8-[
User avatar
jamesdeluxe
 
Posts: 3320
Joined: Mon Oct 04, 2004 3:19 pm
Location: South Orange, NJ

Re: New England Snow Holes

Postby J.Spin » Fri Jan 15, 2010 9:39 am

Summary: Based on ten seasons of my data from the past two decades, on average, tree skiing in Northern Vermont appears to begin in the first half of December (mean date = less than or equal to Dec 9th) with approximately 2 to 3 feet (mean = 28.2 inches) of snow at the stake on Mt. Mansfield.


Details of the analysis are below

J.Spin wrote:Just off the top of my head I consider the entirety of January, February, and March to be virtually a lock in terms of tree skiing availability around here during an average season, with December and April being the fringe months that you can often get.

The quote above was just my gut feeling about the availability of tree skiing around here, but since I don’t have a great memory for those sorts of dates, I went to my daily trip reports to get some actual data. I skimmed through my daily reports at the beginning of the seasons that I’ve documented, and found the first outing in which I skied in the trees, or at least commented that the tree skiing looked fine if I didn’t ski them due to other constraints (time, available equipment, abilities of friends, etc.). These are probably not “ultra conservative” dates for the start of the tree skiing season around here, but they are likely a touch on the conservative side for me because although I usually find time to ski each week unless the conditions are poor, I generally don’t ski every day. So, in some cases the tree skiing may have started up to a week before I actually got out to do some of it myself. Where do these dates stand with regard to the when the average tree skier around here is going to start skiing the trees? I’m not sure, but my dates are certainly not ultra aggressive/liberal. I generally don’t like to head into the trees if I have to worry about damaging my skis there, but let’s say the dates are somewhere in the average to aggressive range for the start of tree skiing season.

Some notes about the data: There are actually only 10 seasons in which I was living in Vermont and have a complete documentation of my ski outings, so those are the only ones I used for calculations of when tree skiing started. I did add data from a few other seasons for reference and completeness, but those data are marked with an asterisk and not included. The ’95-‘96 data are not complete because some of the early SkiVT-L archives were lost (but based on the fact that Castlerock’s Rumble trail was open on January 7th, the trees must have been skiable by that point), and the ’01-’02 through ’05-’06 data aren’t entirely useful because we lived in Montana and didn’t ski Vermont until the holiday period. For reference, the snow depth at the Mt. Mansfield stake on the day of the report is included in parentheses to the right of each entry, and to provide a more qualitative idea of what the skiing was like, each date is a link to the text report (which should have a link to any images if they are available). I’ve also added a relevant quote from each report.

’94-’95: *Jan 7, 1995 (35”)
Sugarbush: “Checking at that critical point on the lift, Rumble=Open, Ooooh baby.”

’95-’96: Dec 2, 1995 (27”)
Sugarbush: “Oh yeah, the Exterminator/Bravo/Elbow woods were abound with people suckin' up the freshies and after this weekend's snow, they should be even better.”

’96-’97: Nov 27, 1996 (21”)
Stowe: “Plenty of trees with freshies for those that want them.”

“97-’98: Nov 29, 1997 (27”)
Stowe: “I checked out a few woods, and some are ready; but a lot of the small trees are still sticking out (Toll House woods, Triple woods) so it was kind of a "that's enough for now sort of feeling".”

’98-’99: Dec 20, 1998 (21”)
Jay Peak: “From what I noticed in my short jaunts into the Jet/Haynes woods though, much of the natural cover is skiable.”

’99-’00: Nov 18, 1999 (30”)
Sugarbush: “I realized that I was now in the realm of the new gladed trail known as "Deeper Sleeper", so I hung a right onto Sleeper Road, and before I knew it, I was face to face with an untracked, unroped glade!”

’00-’01: Dec 20, 2000 (39”)
Sugarbush: “So, I turned right, into the woods, to check them out. The woods had great snow, a foot (the combination of Sunday / Tuesday) of powder over the firm base.”

’01-’02: *Montana (Dec 29, 2001) (18”)
Sugarbush: Likely no tree skiing

’02-’03: *Montana (Ty Due, No VT Trip)

’03-’04: *Montana (Dec 26, 2003) (57”)
Sugarbush: “Then we all disappeared into the untracked Hot Shot woods. The base was certainly deep enough to cover up most of the underbrush because my line took me all the way to the bottom before I knew what hit me.”

’04-’05: *Montana (Dec 27, 2004) (29”)
Jay Peak: Beyond Beaver Pond - “Coverage was good in general, partly due to the impenetrable base, but areas of rock and sticks were evident in the steep ledgy areas.”

’05-’06: *Montana (Dec 24, 2005) (40”)
Bolton Valley: “Like the lift line under the new quad, the woods needed a bit more coverage, but you could certainly hop in with your rock skis and get some fluffy turns.”

’06-’07: Dec 30, 2006 (22”)
Bolton Valley: “I spied a connection into a more thickly gladed/wooded trail to the skier’s right (this may have been part of the “Upper Glades” trail), and it seemed devoid of any recent tracks. It was very tempting to dive in there and catch a fresh line, but Ty had already started down the run we were on and I didn’t want to lose him. I’m hopeful others got the chance to expand the skiing into that area and ski all the fresh lines. I was still blown away that all that terrain was open with such great coverage.”

’07-’08: Dec 4, 2007 (40”)
Bolton Valley: “As we approached the lower mountain, Quinn directed us toward the Glades area, and eventually we ventured into the open lines off to the right of the formal Glades trail. Quinn mentioned that it was called “something” Woods, but I can’t recall that exact name.”

’08-’09: Dec 14, 2008 (25”)
Bolton Valley: “We didn’t hit any expert terrain with the boys, but we did end up going off piste and hit some advanced terrain when Ty noticed that some of the Forest area was open. The snow in there was excellent, with packed powder and powder available. There were a few objects poking around that might grab your skis, but coverage was mostly there, and that was on the lower half of the main mountain.”

’09-’10: Dec 19, 2009 (30”)
Bolton Valley: “It was opening day for the Wilderness Chair, so I took the opportunity to catch the lift assist and check out the condition of the powder off the back side. In line with what I’ve been hearing, there is excellent snow out there, especially up high. I explored some new lines on the south side of the bowl below Paradise Pass, and generally found 8 to 14 inches of powder over the base.”


Average date for the start of tree skiing: Dec 9
Average depth of snow at the Mt. Mansfield stake on that date: 28.2 inches


Some comments/observations:

- The reports come from a reasonable selection of resorts in the northern half of Vermont: Jay Peak, Stowe, Bolton Valley, and Sugarbush.

- Most of the references were to off-piste trees, although a couple references were to more formal gladed runs.

- As I somewhat expected, I don’t obey the 40” rule with regard to when I start skiing the trees around here; on average I appear to start when the snowpack is about a foot shy of that mark.

- In my previous post, I mentioned that I considered December to be a fringe month with regard to availability of tree skiing, although based on my average tree skiing start date of December 9th, it is much less fringe than I thought.

- My feeling that “the entirety of January, February, and March are virtually a lock in terms of tree skiing availability” seems to be generally on track, at least with regard to the front end of gaining sufficient coverage for the terrain in the trees. In all of the 10 seasons for which I have sufficient data, the tree skiing started up in November or December; none of them were even in January. The fact that the closest to a January start to tree skiing was December 30, 2006, in a season with an extraordinarily poor start featuring very low snowfall in both November and December, suggests that having to wait until January for tree skiing should be very infrequent.

- Even with my previous analysis and plot of the snow depths at the Mt. Mansfield stake (32 to 40 inches) during the Christmas-New Year’s holiday period, I was still somewhat surprised by what my tree skiing dates suggest in terms of what to expect for off piste skiing during the holidays. While off piste holiday skiing may not be guaranteed, it should be expected, at least in terms of coverage. Indeed, tree skiing was provided in three out of the four seasons in which we came to Vermont for the holidays when we lived in Montana. For some reason I cannot find the full report for our December 2001 trip to confirm that we didn’t ski off piste (perhaps I never got around to writing it) but based on E’s short report and the fact that there were only 18 inches at the Mt. Mansfield stake, I suspect that tree skiing was not practical.

- The Thanksgiving period was another surprise. I remember snowboarding in the trees with Dave off Stowe’s Mansfield triple chair during one Thanksgiving period, and thinking how unique that was. Before working up this analysis, if I’d been asked how many times tree skiing was available by Thanksgiving around here, I would probably said “once that I can remember”, but apparently it’s a little more frequent than that. Of course it depends on exactly when Thanksgiving falls, but three of the tree skiing starts in my list above were at the end of November, and I believe the one I actually remember with Dave is prior to any of those listed, so it’s not as rare as I thought.

- As far as the back end of the season goes, I have not done an analysis of my own tree skiing in that period, but it’s a lot different than the front end. Whether the season has been fantastic or a total dud, the skiing usually finishes up within the same timeframe that spans a couple of weeks. Obviously there is room for debate on exactly when the tree skiing ends, but again based on the stake data, there should be some tree skiing available through the end of the month.

- In terms of how this season rates with regard to tree skiing from my perspective, it started on Dec 19 vs. and average of Dec 9, so certainly not way above average in that regard. Of course the date alone does not speak to the quality of the skiing.

-J
Last edited by J.Spin on Fri Jan 15, 2010 9:51 am, edited 1 time in total.
User avatar
J.Spin
 
Posts: 918
Joined: Wed Sep 22, 2004 9:54 pm
Location: Waterbury, Vermont - Image: Skiing Bone Mountain in the Bolton Valley backcountry, VT

Re: New England Snow Holes

Postby rfarren » Fri Jan 15, 2010 9:40 am

I'll be the first to admit that last weekend the bottom of my skis got a bit scuffed up in the trees. I would have liked a bit more cover so as not to worry about my skis. Yet, the snow in there was great. It was always soft, and 100% fallen from the sky. At times I was in 5 to 6 inches of powder. Were the few branches and bushes peeping up through the snow a bit of a pain? Sure, but it didn't keep me from skiing in those glades over and over and over again. When the wind picked up and the rest of the mountain became scoured, I hit the trees, where the snow was soft. It would've been nice to have an extra 10 inches of base, as that would have completely covered everything, but nonetheless it was still skiable.

BTW, this was at whiteface, not No' VT. No' VT I believe has much more base.
Rob
User avatar
rfarren
 
Posts: 2135
Joined: Mon Dec 24, 2007 4:02 pm
Location: New York City

Re: New England Snow Holes

Postby Patrick » Fri Jan 15, 2010 12:55 pm

J.Spin wrote:Average date for the start of tree skiing: Dec 9
Average depth of snow at the Mt. Mansfield stake on that date: 28.2 inches
(...)As far as the back end of the season goes, I have not done an analysis of my own tree skiing in that period, but it’s a lot different than the front end. Whether the season has been fantastic or a total dud, the skiing usually finishes up within the same timeframe that spans a couple of weeks. Obviously there is room for debate on exactly when the tree skiing ends, but again based on the stake data, there should be some tree skiing available through the end of the month.


That is my feeling. Tree skiing available until the end of the month (April) for Northern Vermont.
Ski Mad World
A blog of MadPat's World: A History of Skiing Geography
http://madpatski.wordpress.com
User avatar
Patrick
 
Posts: 4729
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2004 6:19 am
Location: The Great Trip 2006
Location: Ottawa, Ontario

Re: New England Snow Holes

Postby Patrick » Fri Jan 15, 2010 1:03 pm

rfarren wrote:BTW, this was at whiteface, not No' VT. No' VT I believe has much more base.


I never (or rarely) ski trees at Whiteface, I have very little interest in them. WF for me is wide steep and long fall-line trails, trees at WF (based on snow, layout, topography) isn't in the same category IMO (haven't skied Lookout yet). Skiing trees at WF is like someone going to Alta to ski on the groomers. Nothing wrong with it, but not skiing their best element.
Ski Mad World
A blog of MadPat's World: A History of Skiing Geography
http://madpatski.wordpress.com
User avatar
Patrick
 
Posts: 4729
Joined: Thu Sep 23, 2004 6:19 am
Location: The Great Trip 2006
Location: Ottawa, Ontario

Re: New England Snow Holes

Postby ChrisC » Fri Jan 15, 2010 7:55 pm

Overall, I do not believe our East Coast posters judge conditions to the some standards as West Coast threads so I do not participate in them. Something in the water. (In the city of Boston, it's rust from the old pipes). This snow-hole/tree skiing thread is just another example.

There really is no consistent base at New England ski mountains. I have found only the highest areas (4000+) or the Northern VT can accumulate something resembling a Western base. However, these areas still rate poorly. In the twenty years of skiing on the East Coast I have really never seen more than 20-30" ever accumulated reliably. (Feb 98 at Sugarloaf ME I saw honest feet - but it got washed away next week.)

East Coast tree skiing:
1. Almost all the hills were deforested in the last 100-150 yrs, so - combined with standard species growth - there is little undergrowth/falls that require deep snow bases.
2. There are typically bare spots all over any semi-maintained glade throughout the season.
3. Most East Coast areas cannot support glade skiing via natural snowfall.
4. There are maybe 10 mountains where you can ski the trees semi-reliably: New Hampshire - 0 reliably, Maine - Sugarload/Sunday in parts. VT - Jay, Smuggs, Stowe, MRG, Sugarbush, Bolton, Killington. New York - 0 reliably.


OK, continue to tell us how long the season is and talk about one-off days after a storm....
User avatar
ChrisC
 
Posts: 917
Joined: Wed Dec 01, 2004 11:00 am
Location: San Francisco Photo: La Grave, France

Re: New England Snow Holes

Postby rsmith » Fri Jan 15, 2010 11:03 pm

riverc0il wrote:Tony, with all due respect (and I truly do have a lot of respect for your experience, data tracking, and knowledge), I once again must submit that no matter how detailed of a statistician one is, if you are not skiing here every week, you can never truly appreciate and understand the conditions..


"Oh, people can come up with statistics to prove anything. 14% of people know that."

- Homer Simpson
rsmith
 
Posts: 113
Joined: Tue Dec 13, 2005 1:39 pm
Location: san jose, ca

PreviousNext

Return to Eastern North America

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 14 guests


All content herein copyright © 1999-2017 First Tracks!! Online Media

Forums Terms & Conditions of Use

cron